By Christian Moody
Special to The Roanoke Times
With its unlikely march through the Blue Ridge District boys basketball tournament, Lord Botetourt made the Region III Division 4 tournament. That district tournament title can now be credited with an opening round win.
Botetourt beat Turner Ashby 62-57 in a regional quarterfinal played on the Cavaliers' home floor. The district tournament win earned them a fourth seed and home game in the regional, playing host to Turner Ashby, the fifth seed.
Both head coaches said the home court advantage was a factor in the win. With the teams matching up so well they are nearly mirror images, the little intangibles turn into big differences in the game.
Botetourt head coach Chad Conner gave praise to the roughly 250 raucous students who packed the stands behind the home bench.
"Our student section has been awesome. We knew they'd come out tonight. Our students have helped us a lot with these wins," he said.
Turner Ashby coach Chad Seibert knows the importance of having a friendly crowd.
On the court, the teams played a similar game. Both love the perimeter offense, but have muscle in the lane they will use when given the chance. Both teams have outstanding guards and both were led by a guard scoring 23 points. Justin Goode dropped in 23 for the Cavaliers (15-10), making four treys. He did not attempt a free throw until the fourth quarter, but scored all seven of his points on eight attempts from the line in the final frame.
Shane Brown had 23 for the Knights, making five 3s.
Each team likes to shoot from downtown, with Botetourt winning the battle of 3-pointers by one, nine to eight.
The Cavalier defense rose up when needed, holding the Knights to 4 of 13 (31 percent) in the fourth quarter and grabbing rebounds of eight of the nine misses on the Knights end of the floor. Guard Miles Hunter had half of Botetourt's fourth quarter rebounds, grabbing them long off the iron and thwarting any attempts for second-chance points.
As has been their habit in the last four wins, the Cavaliers found themselves down by double digits early. Turner Ashby jumped to a 12-2 lead and threatened to run away with the game. But Dustin Hassell drained a trey, followed by a layup by Goode. As the quarter drew to a close, Hassell and Goode came through again, each scoring, to tie the game.
Justin Layman, however, tossed in a buzzer-beater from 32 feet to put the Knights up and attempt to stop Botetourt's momentum.
The Cavaliers fell behind by as many six but had cut the margin to four when Goode took control. He made a 3, passed on another when he spotted Thomas Hickman under the hoop for an easy two points that put the Cavaliers ahead, then scored another trey on the next possession.
Botetourt never trailed after that.
"We are resilient," Conner said. "That group's been like that. That says a lot about them not only as basketball players but as people."
TURNER ASHBY (14-12)
Layman 7 4-6 19, Keppel 1 1-2 3, Corbin 3 0-1 7, Brown 8 2-2 23, Bravo 2 0-0 5, Hanifer 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 7-11 57.
LORD BOTETOURT (15-10)
Goode 6 7-8 23, Hassell 6 2-2 17, Southerland 3 3-5 9, Hickman 4 0-0 9, Kelly 0 0-0 0, Gardner 1 0-0 3, Rivenbark 0 1-2 1, Gunter 0 0-0 0, Webb 0 0-0 0, Manning 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-17 62.
Turner Ashby 19 12 13 13 - 57
Lord Botetourt 16 17 14 15 -62
3-point goals - Turner Ashby 8 (Brown 5, Bravo, Corbin Layman), Lord Botetourt 9 (Goode 4, Hassell 3, Hickman, Gardner). Total fouls - Turner Ashby 15, Lord Botetourt 9. Fouled out - Keppel. Technical foul - Lord Botetourt (six players on court).